I am not a fan of cold weather, and I am always very relieved when Spring rolls around each year. Each year I am also hopeful that this summer will not bring the same level of tragedy we tend to see year in, year out when the weather warms up.
This year’s National Drowning Report will be published by Royal Life Saving Australia later this month, and we need to brace ourselves for the numbers, because the statistics last summer were shocking. 5 people drowned in less than 24 hours on New Year’s Day across Australia and 51 people drowned in the first 37 days of summer. At January 10, there had been 56 drowning deaths nationally since December 1st – more than 1 drowning per day – across a range of demographics, including children, teens and adults, both Australians and overseas tourists. This represented a 30% increase on drownings at the same last year.
The water is so completely entrenched in Australian culture and lifestyle, that you would expect us to be world leaders in terms of safety – but people are still drowning every year, and drowning remains the number 1 cause of accidental death in children under 5. Why is this happening, and what can we do to change this?
In many cases, the water safety layers of protection were simply not in place – supervision, fencing the pool and shutting the gate, teaching children to swim from babies and being prepared for an emergency. With children in particular, that moment of inattention while you should be watching the kids in the pool or in the bath, the assumption that someone else is watching the kids, being distracted by the phone for what feels like seconds but is actually minutes, or the bucket of water for the dog that will fascinate your toddler, can all be lethal. For adults, swimming alone, lack of swimming experience, intoxication and lack of awareness of river and ocean currents all played a part in many of the drowning deaths recorded.
We all think it won’t happen to us, but the sad truth is it can happen to anyone. What should we be doing to minimise the risk this Spring? September is a perfect time to do a check of your pool area, making sure all the pool barriers are secure and gates are self latching.
Spring is also a great time to get your child into swimming lessons – we simply can’t afford for our children not to have strong swimming skills. Do you know of children that can’t swim in your circle of friends or family? Please encourage the parents to do something about it, whether they live near or far. Can you swim? We run adult swimming lessons too.
Please, always supervise your children around water, and talk to your children about water safety, and learn CPR. Let’s work together to make this summer safer!